Effect of Visual Job Listings Content on Applicants
IndustryView | 2014

Consulting firm Deloitte calls it the “talent paradox”: The idea that even if there is a large pool of workers that would fit a company’s needs, it can still be difficult to attract the right ones. That was certainly the case at the time of Deloitte’s writing in July 2011, with the U.S. unemployment rate at 9 percent. With unemployment now at 5.9 percent (the lowest rate since 2008), talent pools are shrinking—and employers are looking for any edge they can get to attract the best people for the job.

Although factors such as pay, company culture and long-term benefits are some of the most important in an applicant’s attraction to a company, perhaps something as simple as the design of the online job posting could encourage more people to apply. With applicants wading through over 4.7 million online job openings, the addition of visual content could provide companies an advantage.

With that in mind, we surveyed potential applicants to see if the presence of images or videos in an online job posting made the company that posted it more attractive. We then bounced our findings off of Jason Webster, co-founder and head of digital recruiting at OnGig, a recruitment marketing platform that specializes in online job-posting design. Here are the results.

Key Findings:

  1. Fifty-one percent of respondents would be more attracted to a company that had job postings with visual elements (images or videos) than to a company that didn’t.
  3. Respondents were more attracted to companies that have images in their job postings than to those that have videos (45 percent versus 31 percent).
  5. The company’s products or services would be the most attractive subject matter to applicants, for both images (30 percent) and videos (28 percent).

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Half of Respondents Attracted by Visual Elements in Job Posting

In our first question, we asked respondents if they would be more attracted to a company with job postings that included visual elements (images or videos) than to a company with postings that didn’t. A little more than half of respondents (51 percent) said they would be more attracted to a company with job postings that incorporated visual elements.

Applicant Attraction to Company With Visuals in Job Postings

Only 16 percent of respondents said they would be “less attracted” to a company with visual elements in its job postings, with a significant portion (33 percent) responding that they would experience “no difference in attraction.” The data Webster has seen at OnGig supports these findings.

“We have seen more time on the page and engagement with [visual] elements,” Webster says. “Even if they don’t click ‘play’ on a video, if there’s a video on the page, visitors spend three times longer on the page than if there’s nothing there. If the video is clicked, that goes to around five times longer.”

marin job posting

Job postings from Marin Software include videos about the company

Webster stresses the importance of using job postings to capture the interest of potential applicants. From there, the job description and the visuals must provide applicants with all the information they need, so they don’t have to navigate away from the posting. And in increasingly competitive job markets, companies need to inspire applicants, he adds.

“[For example,] if you’re in the Bay Area right now,” says Webster, “there are a lot of companies that people don’t even know about competing with the Googles and the Facebooks—what’s going to inspire them to join your organization, instead?”

Visual elements can also boost credibility. According to a Stanford Persuasive Tech Lab study, 46 percent of people say a website’s design is the number-one factor in determining its credibility. When a potential applicant is looking at a company that lacks brand recognition, the look of its website could be an important indicator of its legitimacy.

Images Inspire More Attraction Than Videos

Knowing that visual elements in a job posting affect a potential applicant’s attraction to that company, we then wanted to find out whether images or videos affected attraction more. Our results showed that more respondents were attracted to companies that had images in their job postings, compared with those that had videos (45 percent versus 31 percent).

Applicant Attraction to Company, by Visuals Used in Job Postings

In fact, according to our survey, more respondents said their attraction to the company would not be affected by the inclusion of videos (34 percent) than those who said it would be positively affected (31 percent). Webster believes that video length could be a key problem here.

“Our research says that you shouldn’t waste your time with a video that’s longer than a minute and a half,” Webster says. “That’s about the [maximum] that people are going to watch.”

pc recruiter career

PCRecruiter includes an image of its offices above every job posting

Even more condemning is the fact that, according to other studies, 20 percent of viewers will abandon marketing videos after just 10 seconds. In the end, images can market the company more efficiently without needing to take a lot of the applicant’s time, especially in situations where video is less feasible.

“I may be at work or on a mobile device, so I can’t necessarily invest in watching videos,” Webster says. “From a mobile perspective, people are more apt to consume the imagery instead of investing in the video.”

Products and Services, Workplace Among Top Visual Subject Matter

Finally, we wanted to know what subject matter of images or videos in job postings would have the greatest effect on applicants’ attraction to the company. For both images and videos, seeing the company’s products or services would be most attractive to applicants (30 percent for images, 28 percent for videos). The company’s employees (22 percent for images, 20 percent for videos) and the workplace look and feel (21 percent for images, 27 percent for videos) also topped the list of attractive visual subjects.

Most Attractive Visual Subjects in Job Posting, by Visual Type

It’s surprising to see “products and services” top the list, but Webster says this makes sense, given that potential applicants increasingly want to know that their work is making a difference.

“They want to know what they’re going to have an impact on—the types of projects and challenges; how the product is seen in the marketplace,” Webster says. “Increasingly, folks want to work for companies that are making the world a better place [through their products and services], so they want to visualize that.”

Another element at play could be a psychological phenomenon known as the “familiarity principle.” According to this principle, people tend to develop a preference for something merely because they are familiar with it. This has been proven in social circles and advertising, and it could explain why job searchers are attracted to visuals of a company’s products or services. While elements such as the team and workplace may be unfamiliar to a potential applicant, the products and services the company deals in most likely resonate.

john deere job

John Deere’s job postings include images of signature products

Visuals of the look and feel of the workplace represented the biggest discrepancy between images and videos: respondents were six percentage points more likely to be attracted to a company by videos of this subject than by images. Webster believes this difference can be attributed to images not being able to authenticate something as intangible as “look and feel.”

“A video is going to seem more realistic—more authentic,” Webster says. “Photography can be stock, in a lot of instances. A video is more apt to be the real thing.”

Implications of Data

If your job postings lack visual content, you could potentially be missing out on the best talent for your company. As our survey has shown, simply adding images or videos to the job description that show off your company’s products or your team could be the factor that swings a potential applicant in your favor. Add in the fact that images and videos can help your content show up higher in search-engine results, and it becomes clear that visual elements are key to the success of job postings online.

Companies would be well-advised to revise profiles and job postings on sites such as LinkedIn to include images and videos. Many applicant tracking systems (ATSs) also support branding and design capabilities for including valuable visual elements on company careers pages. And if your ATS doesn’t have these features, recruitment marketing platforms such as OnGig can integrate with your ATS to make your job postings pop on your careers page.


To find the data in this report, we administered an online survey that resulted in 385 unique respondents: a sample size that allowed us a 95 percent confidence level in our findings. We worded the questions to ensure that each respondent fully understood their meaning and the topic at hand. Note that Software Advice has no financial relationship with OnGig.

If you have comments, or would like to obtain access to any of the charts above, contact brianwestfall@softwareadvice.com.

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